A 32-year-old housewife based in Jos, Plateau State, has added a new dimension to the commission of crime by allegedly involving herself in four criminal activities in one week. After faking pregnancy for nine months, Mrs. Leritshimwa Diyal sought to cover up her deceit by allegedly stealing a three-month-old baby.
Within the said period, she also arranged her own abduction, demanded ransom and attempted to take her own life when she realised that the game was up.
Hers was an obvious case of a housewife driven by desperation to have a fruit of the womb. Hence, she jettisoned all known moral ethics and civil conventions and adopted some unimaginable options to bear a child for her husband.
Seven years after she got married, Leritshimwa could not bear a child. While her husband resorted to prayers in the hope of a miracle, she could not endure the family pressure on her to produce a baby. With time, her childlessness became a major threat to the survival of her marriage, forcing her to contemplate getting a child at all cost.
She began last year by lying to her husband that she was pregnant. Needless to say that the news of her long-awaited pregnancy excited the husband to no end. While her husband celebrated the belief that God had answered his prayers, the woman capitalised on her fibroid, an abnormal health condition that leads to enlarged stomach, to give him the impression that a baby was being expected.
While the man eagerly awaited the arrival of their first baby, the woman was busy plotting how to justify her pregnancy claims after nine months. Every month, she demanded money from her innocent husband for antenatal care, telling her husband that she was undergoing same at Jos University Hospital (JUTH). The poor man sensed no deceit and looked eagerly forward to a successful delivery of his first child.
On Sunday, May 25, three days to the expected date of delivery (EDD), Leritshimwa told some family members that she had started noticing signs that she was in labour and so was going to the hospital. Having left the house alone, she hid herself somewhere and called his husband and other family members that she had been kidnapped on her way to the hospital.
The news of her abduction sent danger signals to the family and the entire Jos community, spreading like wild fire and drawing curses from sympathisers who could not help wondering why some people would kidnap a woman already in labour. But there was no time to ponder. The panicking husband and the family must do the needful to rescue Leritshimwa and her unborn baby.
While Leritshimwa’s husband was trying to sort out the ransom demanded by kidnappers, she sent a message to him on May 26 that she had been delivered of a female child in kidnappers’ den. The confused husband pleaded with the ‘kidnappers’ to accept the N500,000 he was able to gather for the release of his wife and new baby. Three days later, Leritshimwa emerged with a female baby she claimed she was delivered of in kidnappers’ den. The entire family was happy to see her with a newborn baby girl, not knowing that it was stolen.
Unknown to family members, for all of the three days Leritshimwa claimed she was in captivity, she was actually in the hospital trying to steal a newborn baby. Having served in the hospital as an IT student of the College of Health Technology Zawan, Jos, Plateau State, she used her knowledge of the hospital’s terrain to effect the stealing of a new baby.
First, she wore her lab gown to disguise as a worker in the hospital and went to the labour ward where a woman had been delivered of a baby girl three days earlier. Disguising as a nurse, she told the mother of the newly born baby that the doctor directed her to bring it for a blood test. Believing Leritshimwa to be a nurse, the poor woman released the baby to her and she vanished with it.
A mother in trauma
The 30-year-old mother of the baby, Mrs. Mary Chukwuebuka, who spoke to journalists in Jos, recalled that the baby was taken away from her on Friday, May 31 by a lady who disguised as a medical personnel in the hospital, three days after birth.
Mrs. Chukwuebuka said: “The Lady who took my baby was dressed in a lab jacket just like the hospital staff. She came straight to my bed in the hospital and requested to carry the baby to the children’s ward for blood sample.
“At first, I resisted and said a doctor had just left after an examination but did not say that the baby was sick or there was need to run a test. The lady insisted that she was directed by the doctor to carry the child to the children’s ward for blood sample.
“I willingly released my baby to her, believing that she was a medical personnel working in the hospital. But when I realised that there was a problem, after waiting for a long period and went to the children ward but could not find my baby, I went to complain to the other doctors only to discover that my baby was missing.”
Different strokes for different folks
While Mrs Chukwuebuka and members of her family were devastated by the disappearance of their newborn baby, it was celebration in the family of Leritshimwa, where she was welcomed home with fanfare. On reaching home with the stolen baby, however, she urged the family to take her to a hospital for an examination of the baby. She was taken to the Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) with the child.
At BUTH, she also lied that she was delivered of the baby in kidnappers’ den, and having been released, she needed proper medical attention. While she was on admission at BUTH, the news broke of a missing child already reported to the police by the management of Plateau Specialist Hospital. The police got an intelligence report of a woman who had brought a child to BUTH.
The Plateau State Police Command promptly wrote to the management of BUTH, requesting their cooperation in their investigation. It was later discovered that the baby that went missing in Plateau Specialist Hospital was the same baby found with another mother in BUTH. That brought an end to Leritshimwa’s antics.
Realising that the game was up, she had no way to defend herself of the crimes. She simply confessed to the police that she stole the baby from Plateau Specialist Hospital. She was promptly arrested and the stolen baby was recovered and returned to the original owner.
The investigation and the recovery of the stolen child took the police two weeks.
Suspect will face trial —Police
Speaking about Leritshimwa, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Isaac Akinmoyede, said: “Due to painstaking and diligent investigation coupled with medical reports, the Police discovered that the suspect, Leritshimwa Dungjil Diyal, has not given birth as she claimed.
“When confronted with these obvious and Unclad realities, she broke down and confessed to the commission of the above-mentioned crime. The police are investigating her claim that the crime was committed by herself alone.”
According to the police boss, “the principal suspect, Leritshimwa Dungjil Diyal, is a 32-year-old married woman who is a student of the College of Health Technology Zawan in Jos South LGA. She perfected her plans to steal the child by leveraging on her knowledge of Plateau State Specialist Hospital where she once did her attachment.
“She also faked her kidnapping story, thinking it would give her strong alibi. She took the child to Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, with the advice of her mother. The case will be charged to court after investigation.
Paraded before newsmen at the CID Headquarters Jos, Leritshimwa told journalists that she preferred death to the public shame she had subjected herself to. She told journalists in Jos that she stole the baby out of desperation. wish I was dead. I don’t know why I did all this,” she said amid sobs.
Hospital celebrates, set to beef up security
The management of Plateau Specialist Hospital from where the baby was stolen could not hide their joy when the baby was recovered. Handing the baby over to the rightful owner at the hospital in Jos, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Philemon Golwa, expressed delight at the professionalism of the police who helped in recovering the baby and arresting the suspected thief.
Dr. Golwa said: “For this baby to be found alive, he is a miracle baby. We will build a monument in his name for surviving this ordeal at a very tender age. Today is a day of celebration of a life that was thought to be lost but now has been found.
“On that faithful day when we were told that this baby was missing, we were worried. We went to the police, they did their work and most of our staff here were interrogated and kept behind the counter and we had to allow them to do their work.
“I was not sure of what to say throughout the period, but God has made it this way that today, we are celebrating.
“Any baby that comes in circumstances like this, they turn out to be great people in the society. That is why we have to tell the whole world what is happening. We had a breakthrough, and the person that did the technical work of transferring the baby from here to another hospital has been nabbed and she admitted to her fault.
“The Police are trying to demystify how the baby was taken from the ward and how she found her way to another hospital. For us here, we celebrate with the parents. We have seen our lapses. After this, we are taking some measures to correct the abnormalities.
“The incident was very technical. We are going to reinforce some of the basic mechanism of security within the hospital. Not many people will be pleased but you have to bear with us because we need to curtail something like this.
“For the mother, we will follow up and ensure her treatment is completed. We will be monitoring the progress of the baby from time to time. We are going to immortalise the baby, and as part of our contribution, we are taking care of their bills. We don’t expect them to pay any bills again.”
Expressing their gratitude, the parents of the baby, Nwagod and Mary Chukuwebuka, appreciated all those who stood by them to ensure that the baby was recovered, saying they had decided to name the baby Onyiyechi (God’s gift).
Meanwhile, the husband to the childless suspect, Mr. Dunji Diyal, a local teacher in a private school, was livid when he discovered all that his wife had done in an attempt to have a child. Confused and dumbfounded, he was suspected by the police to have conspired with his wife to commit the crimes, but he was not arrested because of his psychological condition. He was, however, being investigated by the police to ascertain his involvement or otherwise. But his mother in-law, who was seen with the child and the suspect at BUTH, was arrested as a suspected accomplice.
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